Friday, September 07, 2007

One of the many things I do on the Net to keep myself sane (since I hate leaving the house or interacting directly with people face to face) is browse CNN. When I was working I read three print newspapers a day. I was constantly refreshing CNN on the browser. I almost always had a decent handle on current events and the major discussion points of the day. Yeah, I worked too. I answered phones and filed and administratively assisted my way in the background of a bunch of things. These days- not so much. It seems the same from time to time although I do sure miss the chance to sit at a desk and deal with grownups all day long. Anyway. One of the big things lately is the mortgage market. And credit issues for major mortgage companies, most notably the ones that operated more on the "fringe" of normal business practices. Not to imply that they were all thinking rashly, but it seems to me that any company offering interest only loans, no payment down, and even the more common balloon payments all pushed at us 5 or 6 years ago as a way for first-time homebuyers with bad credit to get the property of their dreams? Not making a real good decision.

And now I see articles every week about how those decisions are coming home to roost for a lot of people. They never got that promotion that was going to enable them to keep up with the balloons. They got laid off, and maxed out their credit cards, and can't get a job and now will lose their homes permanently because they have no or negative equity in them (thanks, interest only mortgages!) I do not want to end up like that. It's my humble opinion that real estate is still one of the best and biggest investments a person could ever make. I think that an extra percentage point in mortgage rate for a 15 or 30 year fixed is worth the price- because hello? It's fixed. There will be no horrible surprises when you open the mail one day to see that your payments are now doubled or tripled and you need to find the money in 11 days.

I've found a great source of information about real estate. There are articles about every aspect of the process, laying out the terms and language in such a way that a newbie can understand them. Calculators to figure out just what you can afford, and definitions of the options (since there are about fifty billion types of variations on a home loan). Go to the lender being able to ask for what you want. Don't rely on them to tell you what you want and not try to upsell so that they receive the most advantage out of the transaction. If you keep your wits about you when buying a home it's much more likely that you won't become a tragedy on the news, losing everything when you overreached in buying your home and now have nothing to show for it. Your time and money are worth more than that.

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